Can you switch health insurance providers, and how is it done?

January 5, 2022
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Switching health insurance may be beneficial for individuals, families and businesses who already have a health insurance policy. Policyholders have the right to switch their provider, however, there are instances where it is less desirable to do so such as waiting for existing claims to be completed.

What does switch mean in health insurance?

Health insurance considers ‘switching’ as the process in which an existing policyholder changes to a different policy, provider, or both. The switch happens when the new policy replaces the old policy, which may result in different or even improved benefits and different policy terms. 

When can you switch health insurance?

You have the right to change health insurance providers at any time in the UK, but if you have an ongoing claim, then it may be more suitable to wait until the claim is resolved before switching. Although you can change your health insurance policy at any point, there may be times where this isn’t right for you. 

Some insurers may charge an administration fee when you switch to another insurer’s policy mid-term. Waiting for your existing policy to end and switching instead of renewing may be the best option for you - learn more about renewing your health insurance.

Should you switch health insurance?

To understand whether you should switch to a new health insurance provider, it’s essential to compare the alternative options available for you on the market. We recommend that you contact an independent health insurance broker who can assist you with this entire process and will aim to find you the most suitable and competitive policy available for you, catered around your wants and needs. Understanding the other options, you have means that you’ll be in a position to decide if you would benefit from a policy from another provider.

Reasons to consider a switch

Regardless of whether you have a specific reason that you’d like to switch providers, or you’re just considering the options available to you, there is a multitude of different reasons, benefits and options available to people considering a change in their health insurance policy:

  • Reduced premiums - You may be able to switch to a policy that costs you less, and you may even be able to achieve this while retaining the same or a similar level of cover. 
  • More favourable underwriting terms - Other policy providers may be able to offer you underwriting terms that result in your policy being more inclusive or cost you less in premium payments.
  • Alternative policy options - If your personal situation changes, a different type of policy may be more suitable for you, such as family, small business, group, company leavers, or individual health insurance.
  • Hospital access - Different providers may have varying hospital lists and options for including or reducing the policyholders' access. Switching health insurance providers may help you to access a hospital list that is more suited to your needs and location, at the same or reduced cost.
  • Provider benefits - Many UK health insurance providers offer benefits to their members, such as Vitality, Bupa and The Exeter. If there are benefits that you’re personally interested in and you think they would offer you more value, then switching to take advantage of these member benefits may help you to purchase a policy better suited to your needs.
  • You’ve had a negative experience - Sometimes you may not have enjoyed the experience or outcome in dealings with your current health insurance provider. Whatever the reason for this may be, from a complicated claims process or hard-to-reach customer support, switching may offer you more confidence in your policy.
  • You’ve had the same provider for a long time - If you’ve been with the same provider for a long time but you’re curious about the other benefits and policies available to you elsewhere on the market, comparing your options to make a switch may result in you finding a policy that’s more suited to your current needs.
  • Your situation has changed - When your personal circumstances change, it may be more appropriate to switch to a new provider for a multitude of reasons that are unique to you. Switching may help you to find a policy that’s better suited to your new wants and needs as your life changes.
  • You’re interested in alternative options - When taking out a health insurance policy you have many decisions to make, such as level of cover, hospital lists, and whether you’d still like to receive some treatments through the NHS. As you progress through your policy, you may be thinking that you’d rather change some of the finer details you decided on, in which case switching can help you start the process over again.
  • Leaving your company - If you were previously covered for private medical insurance under a workplace policy, you may have the option to switch to an individual plan when you leave. Find out more about leavers health insurance.
  • Alternative treatment options - Health insurance providers and their facilities may offer different treatments, drug options, and access to facilities. Switching may result in you having access to diagnostics and treatments that were otherwise unavailable on your current health insurance plan.
  • You’d like to increase your coverage - Switching your health insurance policy may mean that you can opt for a more comprehensive level of cover under a new policy, meaning you can improve what you’re covered for.
  • Incentives for switching - Some providers may offer incentives for switching to them from another provider as well as honoring underwriting terms from your previous provider or ensuring there is no break in your cover.
  • Policy options - Whether you need a policy that is more flexible, or you’ve seen a provider that offers more options over the levels of cover available to their policyholders; switching is an opportunity to review all policies available on the market and find the one that’s best structured to your needs.

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How does the switching process work?

Switching health insurance yourself can be time-consuming and confusing, so many policyholders will opt to use an independent health insurance broker to negotiate the terms and compare the options for them. With this in mind, here’s how the switching process may look for you:

  1. A health insurance broker will review your existing policy to understand all of your terms, your current coverage, claims history, hospital lists, underwriting, additional benefits and any other special terms.
  2. In order to determine whether switching is the right thing for you to do, you’ll be asked about your reasons for changing and what requirements and needs you have for your new policy.”
  3. All of the available options from the major insurers be compared against your current policy and your needs.
  4. You’ll then be presented with the most comprehensive and competitively priced policy for your needs, which may be to switch your policy, you will also be given guidance on whether there are any additional costs or considerations to take into account.
  5. You then have the option to ask any additional questions and decide on whether you’d like to make the switch. If you decide to switch your health insurance, we’ll help you make the purchase and move over to your new plan.
  6. Ongoing support is also offered, and when the time for renewal comes, we will look to contact you to find out how you’ve found your new policy and whether you’d like to compare your options again or renew your existing policy.

What is the best policy to switch to?

There is no single best policy for everyone. There are many things to consider when switching health insurance, such as your coverage, budget, additional options, and finer policy details. We recommend that anyone considering a switch reviews all available options on the market and compares them against their existing policy. If you need help doing this, we offer this as a free service with no obligation from you.

How much does switching health insurance cost?

Whether you pay for switching your health insurance policy depends on several factors, and viewing your policy terms is the best way to understand if you’ll have any fees to pay.

By law in the UK, you have a 14-day cooling-off period where you’re able to cancel your health insurance policy. You may be charged for the period that you were covered as well as paying an administrative fee, please see your policy documents for further information on the cooling-off period.

If you’re looking to switch outside of the 14-day cooling-off period, the insurer may levy a cancellation administration fee.  If you need help understanding the terms of your contract, we’d be happy to help you if you get in touch.

Will switching affect other aspects of your policy?

Other elements of your health insurance policy should be considered when switching, and understanding how they’re affected depends on your provider and the policy you have. Some examples include:

  • No claims discount - Every health insurance provider structures their no claims discounts in varying ways, which means that when you switch, you may find that you lose your discount.
  • Underwriting - Your underwriting terms will outline what cover is included or excluded from your policy, such as pre-existing medical conditions. It’s important that you understand whether the provider you switch to allows you to continue under the same underwriting terms.
  • Members benefits - Policyholder benefits are unique to the provider, so if you switch to a new provider, you will lose access to any of the benefits associated with your policy, such as provider-specific apps, helplines or discounts.
  • Drugs and treatments - Providers have various facilities, drugs and treatments that they agree to the use of in the event of a claim, and switching to a new provider may mean that the drugs and treatments available to you differ from your original policy.
  • Break-in cover - If you cancel your existing policy before you switch to a new policy, there may be a period when you’re not covered for private healthcare. Some providers will offer you continuity in cover and therefore advise you not to cancel your existing policy before switching to a new one.

Switching health insurance: what do the providers offer?

Health insurance providers have varying offers and benefits that are available to customers who switch to them. If you need further information on more of the UK providers and would like help comparing which one would be suited to you, please contact us.

Please note: the following benefits are subject to the provider’s terms and conditions and may be updated from time to time. Benefits correct at the time of publishing this post - 5th November 2021.

Switching to Vitality Health

When switching to Vitality Health, can you benefit from the following:

  • Save up to 10% with vitality switch and save.
  • Full cover promise.
  • Access to Vitality’s reward program.
  • No break-in cover if you switch to Vitality before you cancel your existing plan.
  • Continuity of your medical underwriting.
  • 5 Star Defaqto rating. 

Switching to Bupa

Switch to Bupa and benefit from the following offerings: 

  • The Bupa By You policy does not take into account previous claims records when joining. 
  • Bupa have broker-only policies available through Equity Health.
  • Continuation of medical underwriting may be available through both personal and business policies.
  • Winners of company of the year at the 2021 UK Health & Protection awards.
  • Bupa offer a 15% discount for registered Dr’s and Dentists.
  • The UK’s largest private medical insurer who work as a non-profit organisation.

Switching to Axa Health

Axa Health offers the following offerings to customers making the switch:

  • Winners of the 2021 UK Health & Protection awards for best pandemic response.
  • 5 Star Defaqto rating. 
  • First-year price promise may be available.
  • Option to protect your no claims discount may be applied. 
  • If medical exclusions are applied they often come with a 2 year renewal period.
  • Members are all individually priced.
  • Save up to 10% on premiums for businesses.
  • Continuation of medical underwriting may be available for those switching from both personal and business policies.

Switching to Freedom Health Insurance

Freedom Health Insurance offers the following switch benefits: 

  • 2-year fixed premium guarantee may be available. 
  • No location-based pricing. 
  • Community rated policy rather than a no claims discount approach. 
  • 6% discount for annual payers. 
  • Only pay for 1 child.
  • Continuity of your medical underwriting.

Our role in your health insurance switch

We are an independent health insurance broker that works with the leading UK health insurance providers. We aim to help our customers to find the policy that covers them for all of their needs at the most competitive price. We offer help, support and guidance for all stages of the process, from new individuals and businesses researching health insurance to existing policyholders looking to renew or make a switch. We welcome you to get in touch for a no-obligation conversation about what it is you’re looking for in a health insurance policy so that we can help you to find the answers you’re looking for.

FAQ


Can I switch health insurance providers while pregnant?

As long as you’re not receiving treatment that is part of a claim being made on your policy, then you will be able to switch your health insurance provider.

Can I switch health insurance companies in the middle of a policy?

Yes, you have the option to switch your policy at any time but an ongoing claim may make this inadvisable. It may be more beneficial to switch at the time of renewal.

Can businesses switch their health insurance policy?

Businesses can switch their health insurance policy in the same way an individual or family can, but there may be additional policy benefits that should be considered before making the switch.

How can I switch health insurance?

You can switch health insurance by contacting an independent health insurance broker or your provider and letting them know your intention to switch.

How long does it take to switch health insurance companies?

You may be able to switch almost immediately, subject to the application process of the new policy that you’re switching to.

When should I switch health insurance?

You should switch health insurance when it is most beneficial for you to do so. We can help you check your policy terms to decide when this may be.

Can you switch health insurance policy during treatment?

If the treatment that you are receiving is part of a claim relating to your existing health insurance policy, it may not be advisable to switch until this has come to an end.

Can I switch my health insurance policy before my renewal date?

You have the option to switch your health insurance policy at any time, but it may not always be beneficial for you to do so. You should refer to your policy details to understand the implications of switching before your policy renewal date.

Compare private medical insurance policies

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Compare small business health insurance policies

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Compare corporate health insurance policies

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